Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Manipulated Slaves - The Legendary Black Jade

Living up to their bill as "'80s Spirit Harmonized Die-Hard Extreme Melodic Metal!!", Japan's Manipulated Slaves rock crackly and electric on this album like a cross between heavy old Loudness, Destruction, Death Angel, Kreator, French rockers No Return and the new Swedish thrash. Of definite high quality with a keen ear for solid underground postures, the band is now onto their second after a debut called Burst Into Blue Flame, maturing into a hard, fast, well-recorded Maiden-derived machine with dripping fangs and surprisingly very cool vocals (actually a variety of them, as Arch Enemy's Johan Liiva guests, as do two female vocalists). Barely locked-down speed metal with an alcohol level a few clinked pints above .08. Email worldkdm@syd.odn.ne.jp for more info. Fully competitive with any Euros one might propose, like say, The Crown, a fetchingly rockin' band themselves.
Rating 8

Finntroll - Jaktens Tid
(Century Media)

It's not just something different; it's different done well, with the metal goods to back it up, with the rollicking melodies and energies to turn the indecipherable into the anthemic. Fintroll are, of course, a bunch of drunken Finnish trolls, who Gothen-bark (Damn you people: must I explain everything? What I mean is their vocals are melodic Gothenburg prog death black thrash metal-ish) in Swedish ("the official second language of Finland"), while loading up the irony bowl with a heap of culture mash, sampling deftly from power metal, black metal, symphonic metal, the new snooty Swedish thrash, folk, ancient "Joik" singing and "humppa", a form of Finnish polka. So like what is that?... let me check my critic's tarots, spirograph and Zep III spinwheel... Sentenced crossed with Apocalyptica, Rhapsody, Mortiis, Zyklon, In Extremo and Children Of Bodom. Killer tracks: 'Fodosagan' and crowning metal riffster of the year so far 'VargTimmen' (just go to track 9), which mixes a sly guitar navigation with what sounds like American Indian chants. Big in their native land and especially Russia (ask them about finding 30 or so bootlegs for sale at a Russian gas station). Album #2 after a debut called Midnattens Widunder.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 4